MANILA (Updated, 4:55 p.m.) -- Suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) killed five civilians and burned heavy equipment in Agusan del Sur on Tuesday.
Police Superintendent Martin Gamba, public information officer of police Caraga region, said Wednesday the rebels attacked a rubber plantation in Sitio Camarangan, Barangay Hawilian in Esperanza town around 10 a.m.
During the attack, two caretakers were killed and the rebels also burned a bulldozer parked at the plantation.
Quoting witnesses, Gamba said the caretakers, identified as Angel Cosan and Danny Linosag, were hand tied by the suspects before they were shot to death.
After attacking the plantation owned by Mayor Leonida Manpatilan, the rebels proceeded to Km 7 of Barangay Milagros and attacked a church of "Pinagbuklod" group and captured three people identified as Felipe Hadraque, a former Philippine Army member, Remy Polintan, a resident of Milagros, and Jun Tria. The three were also reportedly tied up and shot to death.
Tria reportedly tried to escape, but was shot and died before he reached the hospital.
Rebels also torched seven heavy equipment owned by Shanalyn Corporation parked near the church, Gamba said.
The suspects fled after the incident.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs office chief Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said two Infantry Companies of the 26th Infantry Battalion were deployed to conduct pursuit operations against the rebels.
Another Infantry Company that is presently consolidated at Headquarters, 402 Brigade in Bancasi, Butuan City was alerted to supplement the pursuing troops, he said.
Two UH-1H Helos were also dispatched to Headquarters 401st Brigade in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur to facilitate aerial troop insertion.
Zagala said the AFP condemned such act of violence perpetrated by the NPA citing that “the incident is not a form of armed struggle but an outright criminal act."
"Their armed struggle has degenerated to criminal acts which put innocent civilian lives in danger, and cause serious damage to their livelihood,” he said. (SDR/Sunnex)